Sometimes it feels like Vitamin C is the most popular nutrient on the block. Everyone knows about it’s immune-boosting powers and everyone knows that oranges are packed with it.
But did you also know that actually guava has about four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange? And that vitamin C is also good for maintaining healthy skin and cartilage? Or that doctors are currently researching its potential cancer fighting powers?
This little super nutrient is prevalent in many health supplements, skin care products and hair treatments – and for good reason. The power of vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) was first discovered over 250 years ago, when it was found to be the missing nutrient in those suffering from scurvy. Since then it’s been found to have many uses for our health and our appearance.
What does vitamin C do?
Vitamin C has many talents as we’ve mentioned. It’s best known for encouraging a healthy immune system which is why we include it in our TEA+ Defence blend. Many of the cells that make up the immune system accumulate the vitamin and need it to carry out their duties. So, a lack of vitamin C can actually harm your immune system too.
Vitamin C also contributes to normal collagen function. Vitamin C is found in high levels in the dermis and the epidermis making it an important component of your skin’s make up. Vitamin C travels through the skin via the bloodstream and even has its own transport proteins. Ageing causes a decline in the vitamin C content in both the dermis and epidermis with visible effects. Oral supplementation with vitamin C has been found to effectively increase the vitamin content in the skin, but the optimum levels for a glowing complexion have yet to be discovered.
Collagen itself is a protein fibre that is vital for the growth and repair of the bones, tendons, cartilage and skin. It actually makes up about one third of the body's whole protein content so ensuring its functions normally is vital for your bodies’ wellbeing.
The research into vitamin C is ongoing and has produced some very interesting results since the original scurvy discovery. It’s been found that mammals capable of producing their own vitamin C can actually live 8-10 times beyond their age of physical maturity (for comparison - us humans who can’t produce our own vitamin C only reach 3-4 times that age).
Vitamin C also been used as part of cancer treatment, although it’s use is controversial. Current clinical trials have seen that tumours containing higher levels of vitamin C were not only less aggressive, but they were slower to grow. Some medical professionals swear by its powers; however many others say that more research is needed in this area.
How much do I need?
The average adult aged 19-64 needs about 40mg of vitamin C a day. It’s a water-soluble vitamin and isn’t stored in the body, so we need to intake those 40mg every day.
As with most nutrients, certain people need to modify their intake depending on external factors such as lifestyle choices. For instance, smokers should up their intake as smoking causes the body to excrete more vitamin C that it normally would. This makes them more at risk of being deficient in the vitamin.
In fact, some experts such as Dr. Phillip Levy, say that for optimal health, we need more vitamin C than we can get from food and supplements are recommended.
Vitamin C is considered one of the safest vitamins out there and, as it’s water-soluble, it’s very difficult to take too much of it. One of the most common side effects of taking large doses of vitamin C at once is diarrhoea. High doses of vitamin C can also affect people with kidney problems and those taking blood-thinning medications or diabetic medications.
Where do I get it?
We often associate the orange with vitamin C – it’s probably the first image that pops into your mind when you think of the vitamin. However guava is actually the best source of the nutrient per 100g. Other dietary sources high in vitamin C are red and yellow peppers, kale, broccoli, kiwis, grapefruit and strawberries.
As mentioned above, supplementation is necessary for some and perhaps recommended for all. 100% RDA of your vitamin C can be found in all our t plus vitamin teas and is included in our TEA+ Defence, which you can also get as part of our Winter Wellbeing bundle to help ward off colds this winter.